File - Lebanon's Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai attends a memorial ceremony for victims killed in a militant attack on the Our Lady of Salvation Church in 2010, at the Church in Baghdad October 31, 2011. REUTERS/Saad Shalash
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Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai has pleaded with France and the Vatican to help in the election of a new Lebanese president, officials said Tuesday, in the latest attempt by the influential Maronite Church to end the 9-month-old vacuum in the country's top Christian post.Rai made the plea during a two-hour meeting with French presidential envoy Jean-Francois Girault in Rome Monday. Describing the meeting as "good and positive," Ghayyad said Girault briefed Rai on the outcome of his talks on the presidential election during his second tour in the Middle East.A senior source close to Rai in Beirut said the Vatican was upset with the lingering vacancy in the presidency.Rai had discussed the presidential crisis and the status of Christians in the Middle East during a meeting with Pope Francis in the Vatican last week. A senior source close to Rai said the Maronite patriarch supported the ongoing dialogue between the FPM and LF, hoping it would help break the presidential impasse.
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